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30 August 2017


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Peter -

It was a deal negotiated by Hezbollah. Lebanon wanted their eight soldiers back, or their bodies. Hezbollah was looking for influence in the next Lebanese elections. Although thought they had a ton of influence already. Syria was in no position to say no to one of their best and oldest ally, the Hez. What did they care? They knew that Deir ez-Zor Province was going to be turned into a killing field for Daesh by both R+6 and the Coalition.

But why did the Syrians agree to let them be bussed to al-Bukamal, which sits directly on the border of another ally, Iraq? Agreeing to al-Bukamal antagonized Iraqis, many of whom saw it as a provocation. Why not Madaan or Mayadin or al-Busayrah in DeZ province further back from the border? But Iran will play peacemaker and sooth Iraqi ruffled feathers. That effort is already underway.


I wonder if Bibi is behind this. Anything that keeps pressure on Hezbollah gains his support and his apoplectic fit about Iran's influence in Syria had to get him something from Trump. Clearing Lebanon's border is something Bibi is definitely against. Who knows but US attempts to derail such actions have to be seen as an attempt to prolong the conflict in Syria since moving all Jihadists to Idlib and where ever the Syrian gov sends ISIS effectively clears up other parts of the country.


The SDF is under U.S. command. The U.S. intensively watched over the Manbij deal passing and did not intervene. Why does it now?

The 100 to 200 fighters left the city of Manbij last Friday under watch of coalition drones to ensure the militants didn’t regroup and try to return to the city.
Associated Press reported US military officials said some of the IS fighters had already made their way into Turkey, and many were still in Syria.

As for "never made a deal":

Obama, in a statement delivered at the White House late Thursday, said that strikes would be launched against extremist convoys “should they move toward” the Kurdish capital of Irbil, where the United States maintains a consulate and a joint operations center with the Iraqi military.

“We intend to take action if they threaten our facilities anywhere in Iraq . . . including Irbil and Baghdad,” he said.
Notice the IF? "We will fight you IF you do X (but not if you only do A to W or Y or Z)."

That wasn't a deal, Mike?


Col, thank u for addressing this point which has bugged me for a while and I would love to know more about if possible...

Babak Makkinejad

I agree, he is an ignorant man.


Additionally to Obama's Erbil statement which told ISIS to just keep going he (and Kerry) are on the record saying that the U.S. watched ISIS rise (at a minimum) without lifting a finger because it fitted its purpose.

"The reason, the president added, “that we did not just start taking a bunch of airstrikes all across Iraq as soon as ISIL came in was because that would have taken the pressure off of [Prime Minister Nuri Kamal] al-Maliki.

video at 25:50
"And we know that this was growing, we were watching, we saw that DAESH was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened" Kerry told the Syrians. "(We) thought, however," he continued. "we could probably manage that Assad might then negotiate. But instead of negotiating he got Putin to support him."


There was a G-20 meeting in Antalya. Obama lamented about the bad, bad Syrian government and a bit about ISIS.

Putin went around the table and showed all participants Russian satellite pictures of the very large tanker columns waiting for ISIS oil. The very next day the U.S. started to bomb the tankers for the very first time.

It wasn't about "not destroying oil infrastructure". It was about Obama having be caught and exposed as the hypocrite he is.



Col and walter

That's correct that Obama didn't want to damage the oil infrastructures and some said he didn't want to create a an environmental catastrophe. I agree with both reasons. He didn't bomb the oil convoys traveling to Turkey until after Russia did so because he didn't want to kill the drivers who he considered innocent, paid or forced, employees. His decision was either politics, compassion or a combination pf both. Obama micromanaged the military. Trump has unleashed them.

Yeah, Right

I'm struggling to understand what the US is hoping to achieve with this.

OK, fine, it doesn't like the deal that Lebanon and Syria struck with ISIS.

I get that bit.

And it makes perfect sense to me that the USA would complain long and hard about deals being struck that it doesn't like.

I get that bit.

But this...? What is the point of this?

If the equation is that the buses couldn't be blown sky-high because of the 300/500 jihadi/civilian ratio then that equation isn't going to change merely because the USAF struck down a bridge that is in their path.

There are still going to be civvies on those buses regardless of wether they are on the move or stationary, correct? So those buses are still going to be immune to bombing. Correct?

Sooner or later they are going to find another route to get them where they are going, and the USAF still isn't going to be able to bomb those buses.

So why do this, other than as a foot-stomping display of immature petulance from the US military?

Honestly, I don't understand the thinking.


Crimes of omission rather than commission, the cock up part would be not anticipating the spectacular advance ISIS would make in Iraq. Anyway, no surprise now that the C in C does actually just want to bomb the crap out of ISIS that they have collapsed almost as spectacularly. Even the advances made under Obama I credit to Trump as his electoral campaign, and Russian efforts, put pressure on him to act more decisively against ISIS.

Peter Reichard

The rise of ISIS was an unexpected gift from the god Mars to the interventionist wing of US foreign policy. It is not as if we run it through behavior modified Manchurian Candidates straight out of Camp Bucca and controlled from a secret basement headquarters in Langley but that we committed a sin of omission not commission, cynically allowing it to temporarily metastasize by putting no pressure on or even publicly admonishing KSA, Qatar and Turkey while they financed, armed and provided safe passage for fighters into the pseudo-caliphate.
Doing nothing was in the interests of the bipartisan War Party as this 1) rebooted flagging public support for the "war on terror" and in Middle East military intervention, 2) in Syria furthered our obsession with the overthrow of Assad and 3) in Iraq its success led to the almost immediate replacement of Maliki with a more compliant PM, advanced the cause of an independent Iraqi Kurdistan and above all led to the reintroduction of US forces there, all major US policy objectives. By what other means could we have achieved these goals?
The mission was accomplished not by the creation of a proxy force but by dumb luck and deliberate inaction and having outlived its usefulness ISIS was quickly slated for destruction first in Iraq and now even in Syria as it appears we have reluctantly accepted the survival of Assad.

Peter AU

The Global coalition fighting Amaq

The Global Coalition‏Verified account @coalition Aug 25
#Daesh release claims that are untrue and exaggerated #dontretweet #Amaq


"Are those actual quotations or are you just pulling them out of the air?"

These are a rendering of official statements by a Col. Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria (quotes):

"We are not party to this agreement between Lebanon, Hezbollah and ISIS."

"ISIS is a global threat, and relocating terrorists from one place to another is not a lasting solution.”

“We will take action where necessary; those would be absolutely lucrative targets,”

“So if we do identify and find ISIS fighters who have weapons — and like I said, we can discriminate between civilians and ISIS fighters — we will strike when we can. If we are able to do so, we will.”

Just as I stated: the USA do not like the deal, do not care whether this concerns territories they do not control (and have legally no authority to intervene in), and will act without regard to what other parties decide. With the implied message that next time, they must get approval of the USA for any deal regarding jihadists.

"Do I understand that you think IS is a US puppet and the US is screwing them to demonstrate its authority?"

You misunderstood. I interpret the attitude of the USA not as a "protection" of ISIS fighters (how exactly bombing them is supposed to be treating them as puppets escapes me), but as a rough attempt to (re)assert the pre-eminence of the USA role in the Syrian mess by screwing _the Lebanese and Syrians_ through a sabotage of the deal they made with Daesh. As a consequence, in the future jihadists may well be reluctant to conclude any agreement with Syrians, Lebanese, Iranians, etc if the USA is not on board.

I hope I have been clearer.

Peter AU

From what I can make of it, the Amaq site is hosted by cloudflare on a server in Hong Kong

Cloudflare, Inc. is a U.S. company that provides a content delivery network, Internet security services and distributed domain name server services, sitting between the visitor and the Cloudflare user's hosting provider, acting as a reverse proxy for websites. Cloudflare's headquarters are in San Francisco, California, with additional offices in London, Singapore, Champaign, Austin, Boston and Washington, D.C..[2][3]


When they were with wordpress I had the site bookmarked. Didn't bother to look it up again after it changed sites mid 2016. Out of curiosity I ran an exhausting 30 second search to locate it again.
All this while officialdom rattles on about cutting extremist funding and propaganda.



Surely you can come up with a simple moniker that does not have your name in it. Surely. Kerry's statement makes it clear to me that the Obama administration hoped that the existence of IS was something that they hoped would help them to pressure assad and Maliki but it does not mean that the BHO admin created IS except by ineptitude not that they supplied IS. AQ linked groups are another matter as I have stated. pl



What you have done is to claim that every failure of US operations is "proof" of US complicity with IS and that the US government lies about everything, all the time. pl



"visible from outer space?" How do you know that? i doubt that many people with actual intelligence experience would agree with that. pl



i have a blog so that I don't have to talk to you off-line and personally. I agree with you that the Obama Administration badly mis-calculated the seriousness of the growing IS threat and thought ,as someone else pointed out, that this phenomenon could be used to pressure local governments. That does not amount to sponsorship. It is also true that the Obama Administration should have brought the Gulfie dogs to heel as should the the Bush Administration Administration before them, but clear policy formulation is difficult with regard to the Gulf countries when the Israelis and their penetration agents of influence are howling at you continuously about Iran and the Gulfies are obvious allies against Iran. Your satellite comments are absurd. The kind of resolution you are talking about exists in spy movies. All the BS about being able to recognize people from space is silly. and why would a lot of traffic on these roads have meant anything in particular to anyone and what would we have been able to do about it at that point. the Iraqi military had a large force in northern Iraq and they fell to pieces. What could we have done about that at the time? "It may seem unpatriotic to you." This is a contemptible attempt to create a straw man named Pat Lang, a "my country right or wrong" sort of guy. Is that part of your tasking? Much more of that and you won't be here. pl



The SDF IS NOT under US command. We learned long ago that it is rarely possible to achieve command of non-US forces unless we are talking about foreign national armed forces linked by treaty to the US as in NATO during the Cold War. This is especially true when speaking of non-state actors. We rely instead on charm, supply of materiel and other such things to achieve a modicum of influence. pl


Convoy has been turned around and is being rerouted to Suknah. From there it can take the M20 hiway towards Dez city or other Daesh spots along the Euphrates.

Coalition will be watching and waiting. Hopefully they can take out more Daesh who try to link up with the bus convoy as escorts. And they may well crater the M20 to stop the busses or take out a bridge. I can already hear the sniveling and agitprop from Damascus and by many here in the states claiming falsely that the US is deliberately aiding Daesh by blocking SAA from using the M20 to relieve the siege of DeZ city. There has been paranoia in Syria for several months that the SDF and the coalition want to win a race with SAA to get to DeZ first.


Also noted in the article linked above is that some factions of Daesh in DeZ province did NOT want to allow the bus convoy to proceed. Reason given was they were some sort of surrender monkeys not fit to associate with real Daesh. Or perhaps they do not want them eating up limited resources.

I had wondered about that previously. Why would this group be the first ever Daesh group to agree to a deal. Sure, there have been many other jihadi groups that did, but never Daesh until now. Makes you wonder, were they real Daesh or just locals who changed allegiance. They had maybe heard of the situation in Idlib and did not want to go there. But maybe they were not knowledgeable on DeZ province being turned into a Daesh cemetery?


No. 35

"3) in Iraq its success led to the almost immediate replacement of Maliki with a more compliant PM, advanced the cause of an independent Iraqi Kurdistan and above all led to the reintroduction of US forces there..."

Brilliant. I would like to see the Colonel or a committee member create a post about the application of Realpolitik in the region.


Col Lang,

Just as the assassination of Gaddafi was assisted by US bombing blocking his escape convoy, allowing other actors to catch up and kill, is it possible this is the expected outcome of US blocking IS fighters' escape?

Larry Mitchell

Maybe this will help with the planks on the deck problem.

But the folks at Google Earth remind us that you're not zooming in on just one picture. You're actually going through a succession - seamlessly - of closer and closer shots, making the transition from a NASA shuttle shot to a satellite shot to a photograph made from an airplane. So that's how they get such good close-up resolution




I'm sure you're familiar with the proverb:

“Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.”

I suggest that Palmerston omitted the words "or enemies", but that this must also be true (if we accept the first premise). I would expand Palmerston's quote to point out that there is no such thing as an altruistic nation (or a "good", or "moral" one).

Like you, I don't accept the assertion that the US was actively involved in the creation of IS, or that it has directly sponsored it.
That said, neither do I accept that the US' sole interests in Syria concerns the defeat of IS. The US establishment openly identifies the Russian Federation as its adversary; Iran as its enemy; and Hezbollah as a terrorist organization.

The US clearly believes it to be in its interest to weaken/contain/defeat these groups at some point. I have to assume that the US (Borg included) also sees the eventual defeat of IS to be in its interest. So, all we're left with is a consideration of which adversary/enemy constitutes the most serious threat to US interests, and over what timescale. I suggest that 1) IS is at the bottom of that list on every time-scale, and 2) a prolonged conflict between these parties is in the US interest (as well as that of its close ally, Israel), provided that the cost to the US is minimal.

One has to ask: Why should IS or other militant groups entreat with the R+6 in future, when the R+6 cannot guarantee safe passage? Why leave their current positions when they potentially face even greater jeopardy should they retreat? Would it not be better to stand their ground; to die facing their enemies, gun in hand? This action by the US appears to have weakened the prospects of similar such deals being made between opposing parties without the acquiescence of the US.

Then we should consider the legitimate anger felt in Iraq towards this deal; so intense that I'm sure certain Iraqis would have greatly appreciated this outcome, if not suggested it themselves. I surmise that the US position in Iraq has been/is on shaky ground, not due to any notional support of ISIS, nor due to its 'turning a blind-eye' to some extent* (I think this is partly true, but its significance is overstated), but due to its relationship with the Kurds. This action against IS has probably served US interests in Iraq quite well.

In short, this action appears to have damaged the interests of all of the US' adversaries in the region, while positively affecting its interests in Iraq - all at virtually no cost. It was a good move, from a US perspective.

What I object to, and I think you and I will agree to this extent, is the suggestion by some that the US is the only player in the game; as if it were somehow responsible for the game existing in the first place; in other words, that the US is, somehow, "uniquely evil". I've chosen those words deliberately, because the anti-US sentiment I come across at times reminds me very much of antisemitism.
The US does what every other country does: It exercises the powers available to it to further its own national interests. The only difference between the US and most others is that the US wields substantially more power than the rest.

If "the Jews" died off tomorrow, there wouldn't be a single long-term vacant position in any of the power-structures supposedly controlled by their so-called 'ZOG' or whatever else the loons on the right want to call the object of their conspiracy: Every position would quickly be filled by a highly enthusiastic non-Jew who would, in all probability, exhibit exactly the same personality traits as his or her predecessor. Humanity produces an abundance of these personality types, of every size, shape, and color, and our particular form of capitalism nurtures and encourages them. (A more taboo insight is that academia - psychiatrists, evolutionary biologists/psychologists - is now asking whether they - certain psychopathic traits - are a fundamental and necessary component of successful social structures - consider the "trolley problem".)
A similar thing would be true if the US were to disappear overnight, only I'm quite sure that I'd like the current alternatives a lot less. To those who don't think that the other players in the region are capable practitioners of similar (or worse) feats of rationale, I have a boat to sell you.

That said, Sir, I'd also argue that any suggestion that the US is guided solely by a spirit of benevolence, or by a sense of moral responsibility to the world, is similarly risible. I certainly hope its not guided by those things, otherwise I suggest we all start learning Mandarin or start preparing our children for a life of relative poverty, because our adversaries will beat us in the end.
My contention would be that the US is far from perfect (very far), but Churchill might as well have been speaking about it when he gave his thoughts on democracy being the least-worst outcome available to us.


Just to follow up on the point I marked with an asterisk...

"due to its 'turning a blind-eye' to some extent*"

I don't recall any significant political figure in Iraq publicly asking for US support against IS when it first rose to prominence and surged towards Baghdad. Maybe I'm wrong, but I have no memory of it, nor of the public protests that would have inevitably followed it.
I remember that most Iraqi's (the plebs, if not the patricians) wanted the US out, yesterday. I remember a very strained relationship between the US and Maliki. Why those things were true is less significant than that they were at the time.
I'd ask those who make this argument: What could the US have done? Mobilized a large expeditionary force? How would that not have been interpreted as a new invasion force? How contrived would it have looked if the US suddenly re-occupied Iraq to defeat this 'convenient' new enemy, just as it was having difficulties getting the Iraqi PM to see its pov and apparently 'losing its grip' on the country?
I'm not saying that people are wrong when they suggest that Obama et al saw the ISIS threat as a potential opportunity: But that isn't the same thing at all as creating IS in the first place; nor does it mean that they could easily have done something about it from the start. The political situation was/is far more complex than that, and the options were far more limited than some suggest.

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